The Reasons You’re Having Such Vivid Dreams During These Days of COVID
Coronavirus pandemic dreams could be our brains’ response to uncertainty, stress, and anxiety
Last night I dreamed that I was sitting in some type of restaurant or cafe. I recall the shiny, lacquered tables, dim lighting, and streamlined decor. I don’t recall what I was eating, just that whatever I had was comforting.
I was sitting at a window facing out to the street. Looking out I could see much of the interior reflected in the glass. It must’ve been dusk and I could see my reflection in the low light. A few people were walking around outside.
I recognized a woman I’d once worked with but she’d left the company to pursue her own ambitions. I had not seen her for years. I liked her well enough, I just wasn’t in the mood to chat. I was hoping she didn’t see me.
We suddenly made eye contact. She smiled and waved at me. I waved back enthusiastically. Anyone would think I was thrilled about seeing her. Please keep walking. Ughh — she’s making her way to the door.
She entered through the double set of doors. There was a tight vestibule separating them. Then I thought she can’t come too close. She has to keep a good distance from me. No awkward hugs. Those days are thankfully over. She entered my space. And suddenly I woke up.
Wow! I can’t believe this was all a dream. I don’t typically have such detailed dreams. Not until all of this coronavirus pandemic started. I lay there for several minutes, re-acclimating to my real-world surroundings. I look at my watch. It’s only 3:00 a.m. Again with these weird dreams.
Now I know what happens. I won’t easily get back to sleep, and when I finally do, it will be a hard, deep sleep, and I will sleep longer than I was planning. Who cares? I have nowhere to rush to today. The time schedule has changed for many of us.
It’s not just me. This is not even a new phenomenon. With little effort, I find two recent articles published on the subject of coronavirus pandemic dreams.
It seems people around the world are now experiencing similar nighttime episodes — vivid and memorable dreams. There were also many of these experiences reported during the days after the 911 attack on the World Trade Center.
Scientific data on the topic is still too early in the test stages to provide solid, definitive findings, but there are many great theories based on experts in the science community. This connection between dream content and emotions.
Bizarre dreams are often connected to the intense psychological stress of unsettling memories. These dreams, though vivid, will often manifest themselves in some perceived symbolic threat rather than the direct threat looming in our waking world.
Millions of us are still sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Experts in the field of dreams believe that the sudden withdrawal from our daily routines, coupled with an underlying (or real) fear of a threat can force our subconscious to send our brains on a trip of sorts.
These trips can result in fantastical dreams, with symbolic elements standing in for the real threat. In the case of coronavirus, which is invisible, our brains can paint this threat in myriad ways.
According to Deirdre Barrett, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of the book, Committee of Sleep, dreams based in some form of trauma typically come in one of two patterns: They will either directly reflect or reference the traumatic event.
Some might dream they have caught the virus and are dying from it. Or they will be symbolic. In the case of coronavirus, this invisible threat can appear in your dream in the form of creepy figures, scary monsters, giant spiders, terrorists, or other images representing dread.
The incidence of these vivid dreams appears to have increased as the virus has spread globally. The reference to these types of dreams/nightmares is evident and widespread across social media. It was also noticeably apparent after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001.
This was the event that prompted a closer look into A Systematic Change in Dreams after 9/11/01. This became more a matter of scientific attention after growing numbers of people reported more intense and memorable dream experiences in the aftermath of the traumatic event.
The scientific study surrounding dreams is still a difficult topic to unravel, despite popular interest in the study. We know that our brains are busy encoding information during sleep. Whether dreams are part of this process, or a byproduct is yet to be determined.
What is for certain, is the fear and uncertainty as we struggle together in a global alliance to battle the coronavirus pandemic. This crisis has led to great anxiety and stress. For many, the fear is close and personal. These are the healthcare professionals and care-takers of victims. Those on the front lines. Those who’ve lost someone close as a result of the pandemic.
For many of us, our fear is not so direct, but it lurks unknowingly, stealthy. It seeks for a suitable host to inhabit. We do our best to stave off the threat. We must abide by the mandates put in place by our elected leadership. It’s much like wartime.
We shelter at home and endure some inconveniences and nightmares for a time. We tap into creative places. Dream of our family and friends who we will one day reunite face-to-face and not only in our dreams.